The NFL has a well-earned reputation, like many extremely wealthy and profitable organizations, of being a boys' club. What the league does and how it reacts to current events are dictated almost entirely by the group of older white gentlemen. When one of these gentlemen does something that reflects poorly on the league, there are usually very few consequences.
Robert Kraft's arrest has been more or less forgotten, although the events of the last six months admittedly may have played a big role in that. Former Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said he didn't want players to kneel during the national anthem in 2018 because you, "don't want the inmates running the prison." Nothing came of it other than some poor PR. Jerry Richardson sold the Carolina Panthers around the same time various sexual harassment allegations came out against him. He still made a few billion dollars and even negotiated a clause to keep the statue of himself in front of the team's stadium. As is often the case with wealthy people in the real world, ramifications for abhorrent and/or illegal behavior are usually hard to find.
The NFL is now faced with an opportunity to shed that label, at least in part. No one act will fully cleanse the league of their past sins. But after the dozens of sexual harassment allegations that have come and continue to come in against the Washington Football Team, the NFL now has a chance to could set itself on the right path. The league could get rid of Daniel Snyder. Or, at the very least, hammer him hard enough with other penalties that every owner will be checking in on their workplace culture with great frequency to ensure it doesn't happen under their watch.
If you missed the happenings over the last month or so, the Washington Post has done a lot of really excellent reporting, bringing to light the disgusting culture of the team's front office under Snyder's watch. In mid-July, the Post offered up accounts of 17 different women documenting the harassment they suffered while working for Snyder's team. This was followed up by another report last week in which 25 more women came forward to share similar experiences and reports of the team's video crew being directed to make an inappropriate outtake of Washington cheerleaders' photo shoot for unnamed higher executives, without the women's knowledge or consent.
In response to all this, several employees were fired, Snyder and the team released statements categorically denying his involvement in any of it, and a law firm was hired for the team to undergo an internal review of its workplace culture. That is usually a recipe for a drawn-out, eight-month investigation that culminates in no consequences for those under review and the accusations fall out of the news cycle. But, as reported today by Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, there's reason to be optimistic that Snyder might actually face ramifications for allowing this to happen under his watch:
"The forcible removal of Snyder feels unlikely — owners are reluctant to set precedents and fear putting their own franchises in the crosshairs. But Goodell at least seems committed to nothing less than a full airing of Snyder’s conduct and the hostile workplace he hosted. And that’s an evolution."- Sally Jenkins
Forcing Snyder to sell, as right as it would be, is a bit of a long shot. But Jenkins reports the law firm charged with investigating the Washington Football Team, Beth Wilkins, will be reporting to the league offices and not Snyder himself. Given the NFL's track record in these types of situations, that doesn't mean Snyder is automatically in hot water, but the likelihood of some kind of consequence is much higher when the man whose property is being investigated is not in charge of the investigative team. The NFL is also reportedly hearing testimony from more than 50 women and their lawyers directly, rather than through any intermediary.
While anyone with a brain would recognize how unlikely it is that Snyder blissfully went about his business and had no knowledge of the treatment women under his employ were receiving, he will not be removed as owner unless evidence ties him directly to that culture. But the NFL needs to do something if it truly wants to make changes to this sort of thing leaguewide.
I don't know what those consequences would look like. A monetary penalty would be of little comfort to the women brave enough to come forward and share their experiences. Punishing the team itself by taking draft picks seems more likely, but the path to changing that kind of culture does not come from fear of repercussion. There is no easy answer, but from what Jenkins is saying, the NFL isn't trying to sweep this under the rug like in the past. And that's a start.